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Opinion

Boko Haram leader speaks to world in Arabic, a language not used in Nigeria

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Terrorism,Islamic Jihad,Nigeria,Charles Hoskinson,Boko Haram

A new video from Boko Haram surfaced Monday in which the Nigerian Islamist group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, is seen speaking in Arabic -- the language of the Islamic Quran, but one which is not commonly used in Nigeria -- as well as his native Hausa, raising the question of whether the group's message is aimed at a different audience.

In the video, Shekau says nearly 300 kidnapped girls had been converted to Islam and would not be freed until all militant prisoners were released.

Boko Haram's extreme brand of Islam has brought unusual condemnation on the group from other Muslims since the girls were kidnapped April 14 from the town of Chibok. The group's use of Islamic law to justify the kidnapping has been particularly targeted by religious leaders who say Boko Haram -- properly known by its Arabic name as the "Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad" -- is promoting a false theology.

Most news outlets have interpreted the video as a message to the Nigerian government and the West stating the group's demands in exchange for the girls' release.

But it may be more than that as well: Boko Haram, which has gained a reputation for brutality against both Christians and more moderate Muslims and is loosely aligned with al Qaeda, can ill afford to lose the support of those whose interests it professes to defend.

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